Life sciences briefing: Friday, Sept. 21, 2007

Featured companies: CG Therapeutics, Complete Genomics, ConforMIS, Flexible Medical Systems, LeMaitre Vascular, MAP Pharmaceuticals, ParaPro, Vascular Architects, Zars Pharma

(UPDATED on 10/1/07: See below.)

[NOTE: Posting has been slow recently for personal reasons. I’ll be doing my best to catch up today.]

complete-genomics-logo.jpgComplete Genomics raises funding for high-speed sequencing — Complete Genomics, a Mountain View, Calif., developer of high-speed genome sequencing technology, said it raised an undisclosed sum in a second funding round, VentureWire reports (subscription required). The company said the funding was significantly larger than its $6 million first round last year, but declined to say by how much. Investors included OVP Venture Partners and Enterprise Partners Venture Capital.

Complete Genomics is one of several companies aiming to bring down the cost of genome sequencing in order to, among other things, eventually make it possible for individuals to base medical and lifestyle decisions on their individual genetic profiles. The company, founded in 2005, hasn’t disclosed many details about its technological approach, although its Web site vaguely describes it as “a novel combination of high-density DNA nanoarrays, sequencing-by-hybridization and combinatorial probe-ligation chemistry, and high-performance computing techniques.”

The high-speed sequencing market has been in a state of flux recently. Cambridge, Mass.-based Helicos Biosciences, went public in May. Solexa, a U.K.-based sequencer that later moved to the U.S., also went public in 2005 via a reverse merger and then was acquired earlier this year by Illumina. 454 Life Sciences was acquired by Roche earlier this year. VentureWire also lists Pacific Biosciences as a recent venture-backed sequencing company.

UPDATE: Complete Genomics announced an interesting new joint venture with BioNanomatrix of Philadelphia ten days after this funding; see our coverage here.

map-pharma-logo.gifMAP Pharma prices IPO, looks to raise $92M — Mountain View, Calif.-based MAP Pharmaceuticals said it plans to price its initial-offering shares at $14 to $16 apiece, a range that could potentially raise $92 million. That’s up from the $86 million take MAP estimated in June (see our coverage at the time).

MAP makes reformulated versions of existing drugs for delivery via inhalers. Its lead candidate is a new inhaled version of budesonide, a corticosteroid used to treat pediatric asthma.

conformis-logo.jpgImplant maker ConforMIS ponders new funding, possible IPO — ConforMIS, a Lexington, Mass., medical-device company, is raising a “mezzanine” round of financing while it plans for an IPO within two years, VentureWire reports. The company, which makes personalized knee implants, raised a $10 million “debt facility” in August (see our coverage in the second item here).

le-maitre-logo.jpgLeMaitre acquires Vascular Architects for $2.8M — LeMaitre Vascular, a publicly traded maker of devices and implants for vascular surgery based in Burlington, Mass., acquired venture-backed Vascular Architects of San Jose, Calif., for $2.8 million in cash. Vascular Architects makes devices for the removal of plaque deposits that can clog arteries and cause life-threatening blood clots. The company had previously raised more than $42 million in equity and $5 million in debt, according to VentureWire.

parapro-logo.jpgLice-drug maker ParaPro gets $2.1M grant — ParaPro, a Carmel, Ind., specialty pharmaceutical company developing a topical cream for treating head lice, received a $2.1 million grant from Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. The company said the funding will finance late-stage trials of its lice treatment, which it calls Spinosad.

cg-tx-logo.jpgCG Therapeutics names Christopher Henney chairman, seeks funding — Chris Henney, who co-founded three of Seattle’s most successful biotechs — Immunex, Icos and Dendreon — is now also the new chairman (PDF link) of CG Therapeutics, a new cancer-vaccine company in Seattle. The company said Henney will play a key role in lining up corporate partners and seeking new funding. CG Therapeutics is currently working on a first funding round intended to support mid-stage trials of its cancer vaccine in lung and colon cancer.

zars-pharma-logo.jpgZars Pharma delays IPO — Salt Lake City’s Zars Pharma, a developer of topical drugs, postponed its IPO until next week. Zars priced its IPO at $14 to $16 a share in August, and was slated to hit the market this week. See our previous coverage here and in the third item here.

At that, Zars is in far better shape than Cumberland Pharmaceuticals, which has been expected to go public on a day-to-day basis since mid-August. We last wrote about Cumberland here.

flexible-medical-systems-logo.jpgFlexible Medical Systems raises $1.2M for remote diagnostics — Rockville, Md.-based Flexible Medical Systems, a device and diagnostics maker focused on non-invasive devices that continuously monitor vital signs, raised $1.2 million in a seed financing. “Accredited investors” provided the funding.

FMS is developing diagnostic monitors that continuously draw “interstitial fluid” through the skin without a needle or other punctures. This fluid can theoretically be used to monitor protein levels in blood, although it’s also worth noting that other attempts to do this sort of thing — especially continuous blood-sugar monitoring for diabetics — have had a mixed history.